The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 9, 2014

Cross column: Free guns with truck makes good business


But one can only imagine how the anti-gun folks got their shorts in a bunch over the notion of someone getting a free AK-47 — the embodiment of so-called assault weapons — when buying a car.

Not surprisingly, offering free AK-47s was intended as much as a political statement as sales promotion.

But even more staid-and-stuffy businesses have offered guns as enticements to do some business.

Thirty years ago, a bank in Colorado routinely advertised firearms as an enticement to sell certificates of deposit in several outdoor magazines. Not exactly free, the high-end Browning and Weatherby firearms were available in lieu of interest paid on the CDs.

Back then, unless you were a gun aficionado or hunter and had some money laying around to invest, the promotion hardly attracted any attention.

Fast-forward to present day.

Thanks to recent news events and the need to fill a 24-hour news cycle, the media can’t resist a subject that involves the offer of “free” firearms. Just Google “free guns for trucks” or something similar.

Some news organizations are inclined to add a bit of political coloring, a measure of incredulity at the idea of free guns with a vehicle purchase, that it is something that only could happen at the fringe of a civilized society.

But far away from the metropolitan newsrooms, offering a free gun to a customer base grounded in common sense and an outdoor lifestyle is viewed pretty much as business as usual.

And good business at that.

Certainly, someone at Muscatell-Burns deserves credit for coming up with the idea, original or not, of offering a free gun which a truck purchase.

After all, most dealerships pay for their advertisements that appear in this and other newspapers, on the radio or television. This one — and all of the other stories about their gun promotion that spread far and wide — didn’t cost the folks up in Hawley a dime.

John Cross is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at 344-6376 or by e-mail at



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